Savage Enthusiasm explores the complete history of watching football, from the very earliest days of the game, via golden ages and troubled times, through to the present day.
Penalty kicks generated fierce opposition when they were first introduced to football in the early 1890s, with amateur players of the day outraged at the implication that any good sportsman would commit a deliberate or “professional” foul. They protested by refusing to score or save them. This article for When Saturday Comes looks at the […]
A new book reveals the varied life of one of football’s earliest stars, the England and Sheffield Wednesday outside-left Fred Spiksley. My review of Flying Over An Olive Grove by Clive Nicholson, Ralph Nicholson and Mark Metcalf is in the January 2017 issue of When Saturday Comes.
It was a Victorian football sensation. Five British players – four from Manchester City plus a former teammate now at Sheffield United – were missing, presumed poached by a mysterious foreign agent. “A sudden disappearance!” exclaimed one newspaper. “A Sheffielder taken!” was the headline in another. This 1894 mystery was solved after the players were […]
The true story of the investigative journalist and mermaid hunter who helped create the rules of soccer. Arthur Pember titillated Victorian New York with his muckraking journalism, but before that he was the first president of the Football Association who set out the Laws of the Game. Read at Howler.
In the summer of 1899, football’s most famous goalkeeper took on a Sanger’s Circus elephant in what was billed as ‘The Greatest Novelty in the World’ – an elephant-versus-man penalty shoot-out. This is the story of one of the great football sensations of the Victorian era. Published in issue 349 of When Saturday Comes.
In the early 1900s, an eccentric scheme to create Britain’s first indoor football league was opposed by the FA and ended in disaster for its protagonists. In the winter of 1905, an American entrepreneur launched an eccentric scheme to create Britain’s first indoor football league. The venue was London’s Olympia, the largest indoor arena in […]
My article on the pioneering BJ Evans and his 1946 careers guide / memoir How to Become a Sporting Journalist is in the latest issue of When Saturday Comes. Evans was regarded as a ‘master craftsman of sports journalism’, and his book inspired writers including the late Frank Keating. The book offers an entertaining glimpse […]
A great myth associated with Newcastle United is that the club was formed in 1892 courtesy of a merger between East End and West End. In fact, the club was formed in 1881, and there was no merger. Contemporary sources and modern histories make this clear, yet the 1892 myth still persists. This article looks […]
Away days adventures are among the many joys of being a football fan, and have been since the Victorian era. But how did fans travel to or follow away matches in the days before cars and buses, or TV and radio? This article looks at Newcastle’s earliest away days, tied to the release of my […]